Cockatiels make great pets for dedicated animal lovers because they are easy to handle and train. However, picking the right cockatiel is important if you want a healthy pet. Start by finding a reputable, knowledgeable seller with a clean shop. The ideal age to adopt a cockatiel is 12 weeks old, but make sure the bird has been fully weaned first. Healthy cockatiels will have bright eyes and thick, smooth feathers. If you want a cockatiel with unique coloring, look into the Lutino and Cinnamon varieties!
EditFinding a Reputable Seller
- Contact an avian veterinarian or local bird club for solid references. Avian vets and local bird clubs can often tell you about the best bird breeders and pet shops in your area. Run an online search to get their contact information, then get in touch by calling or emailing them.
- Try using search terms like “avian vets in Austin” or “local birds clubs + your zip code” to find good reference sources.
- You can also get in touch with the National Cockatiel Society for helpful information by visiting https://www.ncscockatiels.org/.
- Research local pet shops and breeders to do your own investigating. Start by running an internet search on the pet shops and bird breeders in your area. Look for sellers with professional looking websites featuring clear images of the birds and shop interior. Check that the shop interior looks clean and well-lit.
- For example, you could use search terms like, “best bird breeders in Boston” or “cockatiel sellers in Fresno.”
- Check out customer reviews to get more insight about the seller you’re researching.
- Make sure the shop looks clean and the birds are well-groomed. Once you’ve chosen a location, visit the site in person. Take a look around the shop to see if everything is clean and tidy. Do the birds look happy and well-groomed? Are the cages brightly lit and well-maintained? Do the birds have plenty of room to move around?
- If the bird cages are dirty or cramped, or if there’s a bad odor coming from the cages, look elsewhere for your new pet. If the birds themselves look ragged or have bald spots, try a different shop.
- Examine the droppings at the bottom of the bird cages. If they look discolored or runny, it could be a sign that the birds are sick.
- Cockatiels kept in overcrowded and dirty conditions are more susceptible to disease.
- Gauge how knowledgeable the shop owner is by asking questions. Find out what the birds are being fed and inquire about worming and other health issues. Ask about the ages and temperaments of the available birds. Solid, knowledgeable breeders and shop owners should be able to give you some information about each cockatiel’s temperament.
- Find out if the pet shop isolates their baby cockatiels from the public. This is important because babies have extremely weak immune systems.
- Ask specific questions like, “What brand of pellets do you feed the birds? Have you introduced them to a variety of foods? Have the young birds been socialized? Which ones have the friendliest temperament?”
- Avoid purchasing cockatiels from a bird mart or bird fair. Cockatiels sold at crowded bird marts and bird fairs are exposed to many other birds every week. Cockatiels in these environments are often weak, sick, or diseased. It’s not unusual for them to die a week or 2 after bringing them home.
- Stick to reputable pet shops and bird breeders to find the healthiest, strongest pet cockatiel.
EditSelecting a Healthy Bird
- Get a fully weaned young bird that’s about 12 weeks old. Cockatiels are usually weaned by the time they’re 10 weeks old, but they need a week or 2 to adjust after that happens. Weaned cockatiels are easiest to train when they’re about 12 weeks old. If you hear a young cockatiel making a screeching sound and you don’t see it eating on its own, it probably isn’t fully weaned.
- Ask the breeder or shop owner if the bird eats and drinks independently.
- Choose a young bird that has been hand-fed and socialized. Birds that have been hand-fed are usually the best options because they’ll be quite tame already and they won’t be afraid of humans. Ask the breeder how the birds are fed and if they’ve been socialized yet.
- Avoid parent-fed cockatiels that haven’t been socialized. These birds will probably be afraid of people and you’ll have to tame the bird yourself, which isn’t easy.
- Confirm that the young birds weren’t subject to inbreeding. Unfortunately, inbreeding can be an issue with cockatiels. Ask the shop owner or breeder about the bird’s parents. Cockatiels that have been inbred are very likely to have genetic weaknesses and physical problems.
- Look for feathers that are thick, glossy, and smooth. Be sure to check under the bird’s wings and the belly, too. Keep an eye out for bald patches, which indicate poor nutrition or sickness. Feathers with ragged edges are not a good sign. If the tips of the feathers look ragged and blackened, the cockatiel is either stressed or sick.
- The feathers should look clean and unstained by droppings. Look under the tail at the bird’s vent area, too.
- Check for bright eyes and a smooth beak. Inspect the bird’s tiny eyes and make sure there’s no redness or discharge. The eyes will be almost black and should look bright and clear. Check the nose for discharge and blockages. Confirm that the beak has a smooth surface without growths or rough spots. Look closely and make sure the beak opens and closes evenly.
- Avoid birds with red, puffy eyes.
- The bird’s face should not look sticky in any way.
- Choose a cockatiel that is alert and upright. Find a bird that is moving around actively and looks lively. Do not pick a bird that looks lazy or sleepy. Avoid birds that are sleeping on the bottom of the cage or in a corner. These are red flags that the bird is sick. Avoid birds that look puffed up and have their eyes closed. Check that the bird is steady—trembling is not a good sign.
- Some young birds tremble when they’re nervous, but usually trembling indicates some kind of illness.
- Ask for a list of vaccinations and request a written receipt. The store owner should be able to provide you with a list of recent vaccinations against things like the polyomavirus, or they should give you health records of some kind for your chosen bird. It’s also a good idea to find out if there’s a return policy and get the related details. Obtain a written receipt for your purchase, just in case.
- Some shops may provide you with a 2-week guarantee of the bird’s health, or some other form of health guarantee. Ask the owner or breeder for more information
EditChoosing a Color Variety
- Go with the classic, gray-feathered cockatiel for the most affordable option. The classic cockatiel has mostly gray feathers on its body, with patches of white here and there. It also has a vibrant yellow crest on its head and tiny orange patches on its cheeks. These are typically the most affordable options, whereas some of the rarer cockatiels with color mutations will be more expensive.
- Classic gray cockatiels are usually the hardiest and most healthy options!
- Go for a Lutino if you want a white or yellow cockatiel. Lutinos retain the classic orange patches on the cheeks, but its feathers are all white with a slightly yellowish cast. Lutinos have black eyes, just like the classic gray varieties.
- Lutinos are often born with a genetic bald spot that they’ll retain their whole lives.
- Lutinos are known to experience night fright and may be prone to fatty liver syndrome.
- Get an albino cockatiel for a unique-looking bird. Albino cockatiels are covered in completely white feathers and have red eyes. They look really neat, but keep in mind that albinos tend to be a little weaker than the classic gray cockatiels, so your bird may be more susceptible to illness and early death.
- If you get multiple albino birds, don’t breed 2 albinos together. The resulting babies will be born weak and they won’t be hardy or healthy pets.
- Get a Cinnamon variety for a brownish-red bird. Cinnamon cockatiels are very similar to the classic grays, but instead of having mostly gray feathers, Cinnamons have pretty, brownish-red feathers. All of the other physical characteristics are the same as the classic grays, including the yellow crest, black eyes, and orange cheeks.
- Go with a Whiteface variety if you want a totally white bird. Whiteface cockatiels don’t have the characteristic yellow crests or orange patches on their cheeks. They also don’t have the yellowish cast of the Lutino variety. Instead, they are completely white all over their body. The eyes are black like the classic grays.
- Buy a Pet Cockatiel
- Tell the Difference Between a Cockatiel and a Cockatoo
EditSources and Citations
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